Upon leaving the White House, few presidents have been as removed from public life as George W. Bush. In September, the Onion could joke that Bush had spent Obama's first term on aspiritual journey in the Himalayas -- because why not? There was hardly evidence to prove otherwise. Aside from a few self-portraits in the shower, we've had precious little insight into how the former president sees himself and his legacy.
This makes today's dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, America's 13th presidential library, uniquely compelling. It's Bush's first public attempt since 2010's Decision Points to grapple with his own legacy, and to convince the historians and academics who soscorned him to do the same. To borrow a few words from Fox Nation, it's a look back at the president who never looked back.
The Center stands on the campus of Southern Methodist University, north of downtown Dallas and not far from the president's home. It's Laura Bush's alma mater, not George's, but that's no surprise: the Bushes have long publicly eschewed their New England connections. (George H.W. Bush's presidential library is also in Texas, at Texas A&M.) Additionally, the Bushes are Methodist, and SMU is both politically and architecturally conservative -- a great match for W, and as it turned out, a decisive choice for the building's design.
The George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, designed by Robert A.M. Stern.
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